Fruitcake is a big part of Christmas in the U.S. but it's also wildly unpopular. Still, these brick-like cakes start popping up in grocery stores every December without fail. Fruitcake has been around for centuries and was passed to the U.S. from English traditions. Fruitcake has a positive reputation in the U.K. (fruitcake is traditionally the flavor of choice for royal weddings), so why do Americans despise this treat so much?
Image from Claxton Fruit Cake
Fruitcake is basically just a dense cake filled with candied fruit and nuts. No one really takes issue with these separate elements, but many people are not happy with this combination. A lot of fruitcake haters have never even tried it because of its bad reputation, so some of the negativity comes from word of mouth.
One of the strange things about fruitcake is its shelf life. When you compare the shelf lives of fruitcake and a regular cake, the difference is pretty extreme. freshly baked fruitcake can last about one month in a cupboard and up to six months in the fridge. A lot of people don't leave cake around long enough to find out how long it will be good for, but for comparison, a chocolate cake will only last for a couple of days sitting out and one week in the fridge.
Six months is a very long time for a baked good to last, but fruitcakes have been known to last for much longer than this. One family has kept a fruitcake for well over 100 years for sentimental reasons and occasionally samples it. As proven by panics over fast food not decomposing, people tend to be suspicious of food that doesn't go bad. People tend to think that for a food to last so long it must contain dangerous chemicals.
Image from Good Nature Travel
Some people blame a 1985 Johnny Carson joke for fruitcake's reputation. Carson joked about fruitcake always being regifted and said that there was really only one fruitcake in the world that people kept giving away. For this joke to be memorable it must have held some truth at the time, so it's safe to assume that fruitcake already had a bad rap.
Cake and a little bit of fruit (usually only one kind) can pair together very nicely, but adding a bunch of different kinds in large quantities seems a bit overwhelming. The fact that it's super sugary candied fruit definitely doesn't help fruitcake out. Tastes and preferences evolve over time, so this must have been an appealing way to make cake at one point in time that just fell out of favor after the tradition was already set. Even though we joke about how terrible it is, bakeries that make fruitcake are still in business, so there must be some people who actually look forward to this part of Christmas.
Bright rainbow food was extremely popular for a while, but eventually, it faded from relevancy. For the next fad, trendsetters decided to go in the opposite direction: black food. To achieve that deep shade, people added activated charcoal to everything from bread to ice cream to water.
Image from Food Business News
Activated charcoal might sound familiar, and that's probably because it was recently a hot trend in the beauty community. Charcoal peel-off masks and facial scrubs became popular after videos of people using black masks to rip out blackheads went viral. This made people wonder if an ingredient used for clearing complexions is safe to eat.
Activated charcoal comes from burning organic materials and processing it at a high temperature to give it the qualities unique to this type of charcoal. Unlike the charcoal we use for our barbecue grills, activated charcoal comes in the form of a fine powder. Technically, it is edible, but eating it can cause some issues.
Image from Flare
Activated charcoal can be used to treat poisonings and overdoses, and these properties can make your prescriptions stop working. It can also prevent your body from absorbing certain over the counter pain medications. Consuming the small amount of activated charcoal used to dye your fun-looking black burger bun probably isn't enough to cause issues, but overcommitting to the trend would. If you're taking any prescription medications, I wouldn't recommend chugging charcoal water every day.
If eating activated charcoal can potentially have negative effect on most of the population, why would anyone want to eat it? Since activated charcoal isn't dangerous in and of itself, it's considered okay to consume. Similarly, grapefruit is known to negatively interact with many common medications, but patients are warned about this when they receive their new prescription. Activated charcoal is such a new trend that many people have not heard about the harm it could do.
Even without knowing about the potential negatives of eating activated charcoal, it still seems like a really weird to choose to eat. Black food looks cool, which is enough to attract people to it. Additionally, some people believe that activated charcoal has positive health benefits, but these claims are murky. Even with the uncertainty around activated charcoal, this trend doesn't look like it's going away any time soon.
Everything you put online is visible to everyone, including hiring managers. What you make public online can either help you or hinder you from getting your dream job. There are a few things you can do to make sure your social media accounts will work in your favor.
Image from Houston Defender
In communications courses, you often hear that you need to brand yourself, but what does that even mean? Branding is basically how you represent yourself online and how your personality comes across. To effectively create your own brand, you should be yourself and also try to stand out from the crowd. To do this, have fun with how you customize your accounts, but make sure you aren't coming off as unprofessional. A good way to do this is having matching colors across your platforms and talking about things that you're passionate about.
Don't Be Offensive
Avoiding being offensive isn't very hard. All you have to do is think about what other people might think of you when they see that picture or post you're thinking about putting online. Additionally, think about all of those lectures you got in middle and high school about what not to post. For example, don't make posts about drinking if you're underage. If you're over 21, a classy picture of you with a glass of wine is okay, but pictures of you binge drinking at a party are best kept to yourself.
Part of this is also avoiding offensive language. Keep swearing to an absolute minimum or avoid it completely. A person who drops f-bombs in every Tweet doesn't come across as professional. Also, not going on political rants is for the best. If you do want to post about politics, make sure you're being respectful and eloquent and be aware that even the most well thought-out and best intentioned political posts could hurt you in the future.
Keep Some Details Private
Hiring managers can hold a bias against you for pretty much anything, even if they don't realize it. Having things like your political party, religion or even favorite sports team public could make someone choose another applicant over you. Avoid filling out the sections like this in your Facebook profile and posting anything related to affiliations on your public accounts.
Discrimination based on things you can't control, like race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability and more, is illegal, but unfortunately, it is something you may face in the future. Hiring managers could base not choosing you for a position on things like this from what they see on social media. They could also figure out some of these in person, so don't avoid posting pictures of yourself and loved ones out of fear of discrimination. You'll probably never know if discrimination is why you weren't hired or if the decision was based on merits alone. If you weren't hired for who you are, that company is not one you'd want to be working for regardless.
One of the most divisive fall candies is candy corn. For some reason, a lot of people have very strong opinions on this sweet. What about candy corn makes so many people love it and so many others hate it?
Image from Vox
Candy corn was invented at the end of the 1800s. At this time, the US was largely agrarian, so it was popular to make candy shaped like agricultural products to appeal to farmers' children. Pieces of candy corn don't look very much like corn by themselves (until you bite down to the yellow part, of course), but when the pieces are stacked together they look like a corn cob.
Like most other candies, one of the main ingredients in candy corn is sugar. Candy corn is also made with fondant, corn syrup, marshmallow, vanilla flavoring and gelatin (among other things). Because candy corn contains gelatin, it isn't vegetarian/vegan friendly. Additionally, it contains a substance made from insects. While gross sounding, this substance is actually very common and FDA approved.
Most consumers are probably unaware of the insect product lurking in these candies, so that isn't the cause of the controversy. The main things that either makes or breaks candy corn is its taste.
Image from Southern Living
While vanilla is the only ingredient that is clearly meant for flavoring, candy corn also derives its flavor from marshmallow and fondant. Candy corn's unique texture can be attributed to the fondant and gelatin.
So really, a person's opinion of candy corn comes down to if that person is a fan of fondant and marshmallow. Fondant and marshmallows don't come up very often in day-to-day life, but around this time of year, candy corn magically appears all over stores. It's much easier for people to have strong takes on things that they see all over the place than things they don't encounter as much.
The great candy corn debate wouldn't exist if stores didn't hype it up in the fall or if companies refrained from making things like candy corn flavored cookies and cereal. Above all, candy corn is a trend that comes around every year, and people have hot takes on trends.
Yes, another one of your favorite fall food groups doesn't actually have any pumpkin in it. However, unlike pumpkin flavored products, pumpkin spiced coffees never claimed to have or taste like pumpkin.
Image from Delish
Pumpkin spice, also known as pumpkin pie spice, is simply a mixture of spices that people normally put in pumpkin pies. The spice blend consists of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. You can actually find little jars of the blend premixed.
It's actually a misconception that pumpkin spice foods are pumpkin flavored. This news is probably disappointing if you were planning on picking up some pumpkin spice cookies or cereal, but it does makes pumpkin spiced chicken wings a little more appetizing (even if they are still a bit odd).
Image from Buffalo Wild Wings
Starbucks introduced the first pumpkin spice lattes 15 years ago, but only started putting pumpkin puree in these popular drinks a few years ago, so the PSL you fell in love with didn't have any pumpkin at all.
Even now, pumpkin spice coffee drinks have very little pumpkin puree in them. Homemade pumpkin spice latte recipes only call for a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin. With all of the spices in there, you won't even be able to taste the pumpkin. Cloves alone are very overpowering, so adding a ton of cinnamon and other spices completely mask any other flavor.
Even if they don't taste like pumpkin, people still love pumpkin spice foods. Are you a fan of the pumpkin spice trend, or are you over it?
Bubble tea is one of the trendiest drinks right now. Within the past few years, bubble tea has increasingly been featured on Instagram feeds and Facebook videos, and specialty tea shops have popped up all over big cities and college towns, Sure, bubble tea looks cool, but what exactly is bubble tea?
Image from Secret NYC
Bubble tea (aka boba) is basically just tea with tapioca pearls at the bottom. Sometimes, fruit flavored pearls are used instead. A variety of teas can be used in bubble tea, but milk tea is the most common type. Milk tea is exactly what it sounds like: tea with milk in it. Milk tea is made differently depending on the country of origin and the maker's personal preferences. The milk tea used in boba is typically made with either black or green tea.
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan. Unfortunately for whoever created this tasty drink, the inventor has never been identified or been given credit. Boba exploded in popularity in its home country in the '80s and became big worldwide fairly recently.
Image from Twinings
Tapioca pearls are made from the same substance as your grandmother's famous pudding. Tapioca is a starchy substance made from cassava root, which is a plant native to Brazil. Tapioca has little nutritional value but is popular because of its texture.
Unless you order bubble tea with fruit flavored pearls, the "bubbles" don't add any additional flavor to the drink. The real appeal of bubble tea is the fun of slurping up the pearls through a big straw.
Image from Boba Life
While bubble tea seems like it's everywhere, it's not for everyone. Tapioca doesn't contain gluten, but people can still be intolerant to it. People with tapioca intolerances get upset stomachs after eating tapioca.
If you're like me and can't drink bubble tea without getting a stomach ache, you can still enjoy milk tea without the tapioca pearls or try out the fruit pearls.
No matter how you order your boba, it's still a fun and delicious drink and worth a try. Based on all of the new tea shops around, you have plenty of time to try it for yourself.
Pumpkins are, without a doubt, the biggest symbol of fall. It's hard to leave the house in October without seeing a pumpkin. People love pumpkins and use them in so many ways. People pick them, carve them and even eat them...or at least they think they do.
Image from Food Network
All of those tasty pumpkin-flavored treats actually have little to no pumpkin in them. The canned pumpkin puree that we use to make pies, breads and more say "100% Pumpkin" on them, but they actually contain a blend of other squashes. Sometimes this blend includes actual pumpkins, but there's no guarantee.
Food manufacturers have to list all ingredients, so it probably seems wrong for foods to be labeled as just pumpkin when there are other squashes involved. Despite this, it is perfectly legal for manufacturers to omit the other squashes from the list.
Image from Mother Nature Network
The FDA does require food packaging to list all of the ingredients the food contains, and it also has the power to define what ingredients are. With the case of pumpkins, the FDA is pretty loose with the term. While we think of pumpkins as those big orange squashes, the FDA defines pumpkin as "golden-fleshed, sweet squash or mixtures of such squash and field pumpkin."
The FDA acknowledges that field pumpkins are different from other squashes, but allows producers to label them all as "pumpkin" when pureed because the organization doesn't think this labeling is intended to deceive consumers.
However, people do feel pretty deceived when they find out about this. Even though we love pumpkins and want to eat them, according to Mental Floss, pumpkins don't taste good and are hard to puree. So, it's probably best that we stick to pretending.
Anyone can post anything that they want on the internet, regardless if it's true. We saw big problems with this with the spread of fake news on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Fake news increased distrust for journalism, a field that has already been struggling due to the decline of newspapers and television. While this is certainly a big blow for journalism right now, it isn't a fatal one.
Social media has made it extremely easy to spread false information, but it has also made it easy to spread the truth. Finding details for stories and topics for new stories is so much easier for journalists thanks to social media. It's hard not to come across story ideas when you open up Facebook or Twitter.
Sure, people do post things that aren't true, but journalists can fact-check using other information found on social media sites and from different sources. Even though sifting through a ton of posts is time consuming and can be a lot of work, having extra information is never a bad thing. Also, if there is something that journalists miss or make a mistake on, social media makes it so much easier for readers/listeners to let everyone know.
Social media allows for direct contact between audiences and journalists. This can be helpful when journalists are looking for specific information or when people have something to share, be it corrections, tips or personal opinions.
Additionally, social media let's us get our news so much faster than we ever have. Journalists and news outlets are constantly posting story updates online. This makes it so much easier for people to get their news on the go (or while laying in bed). News alerts on smart phones also make sure that we don't miss any breaking news. I know that I am much more informed now than I ever have been because I use social media to get my news.
Like with any new medium, social media poses unique problems for journalism. I think that journalism will overcome these issues and be better off. Technology is constantly changing, so in the future there will be something that overtakes social media as a primary way people get news, but what could possibly edge out social media? We're just going to have to wait and keep an open mind.
Ever since the rise of Instagram, food bloggers and restaurants alike have been trying to come up with the next viral food sensation. One of the most recent trendy foods to hit our feeds is glitter food.
This past spring, Dagwood Pizza in Santa Monica California gained national attention for its "Magical AF" glitter pizza.
Image from Nerdist
People aren't just eating glitter; they're also drinking it. About one year before glitter pizza became a thing, Coffee By Di Bella made headlines for selling glittery coffee at its Mumbai, India locations. The "Diamond" and "Gold" cappuccinos come topped with silver and gold holographic glitter, respectively.
Image from Today
If you think that the glitter you see on food pictures looks like crafting glitter, that's probably because it basically is. While sugar can be used to make colorful and shiny sprinkles, it doesn't give the same effect as actual glitter, holographic or otherwise. Real glitter is made from small pieces of plastic.
According to the Food Network, some glitter products that are marketed for food use are considered nontoxic, but the FDA does not classify them as edible. Nontoxic glitter entered the food scene for cake decorating purposes, but was not intended to actually be consumed. Despite this, nontoxic glitter use on food gained popularity.
Image from Pink the Town
Even though viral foods tend to contain nontoxic glitter rather than the edible kind, the companies call the glitter edible on their menus and on social media. Because of this, it can be hard to distinguish what you're supposed to eat from what you can, but probably shouldn't.
Nontoxic substances aren't harmful, but they still aren't edible. For context, crafting products commonly used by children, like paint, glue and markers, are also nontoxic. Making materials nontoxic is more of a safety precaution than anything else. Unfortunately, real edible glitter doesn't usually go viral like the fake stuff does.
Sugar sprinkles do add a nice pop of color and shine to food, but they certainly don't pack the same punch as real glitter, especially the holographic kind. Would you ever consider eating pizza covered with glitter? I think I'd rather stick with plain cheese.